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Getaway Driver

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Someone has to ensure these clowns get away safely...

Criminals have robbed a bank and are loading bags with cash and hear the police sirens. That's where the Getaway Driver (or "Wheelman") comes in. It's this guy's job to zip up in a vehicle and help the criminals escape, with a Car Chase scene with cops in Hot Pursuit being sure to follow. There may be a Car Chase Shoot-Out if the criminals robbed Big Bad's vault and mooks are in pursuit.

It's pretty much always a requirement for the guy to be a Badass Driver for the escape to be successful. He may be a racetrack driver when he's not wearing a ski mask. The car is usually powerful and it may be souped up by a brilliant mechanic for extra speed with a Nitro Boost.

See also Gangland Drive-By, where a skilled and fast driver is also needed before and after the machine gun attack on the rivals.

If the getaway driver is a main character, they will likely live. But if they're a minor character, they may take one for the team after they got away from the heist (sort of a criminal underworld Redshirt). As well, if they are a minor character, the gang leader may make it a practice to do a little downsizing on the team after heists.

Instead of a car, it may be a boat or other vehicle. If the item being stolen is large, a van or truck may be used. In some cases, the bad guys choose an unusual and conspicuous vehicle as a getaway ride (Trojan Ambulance), as it is less likely to be thought of as a getaway vehicle.

The getaway car is often stolen and is abandoned quickly, sometimes doused in gasoline and burned to remove forensic evidence.

Sometimes, if the plan goes awry, the getaway driver is an innocent bystander who the thieves force to drive at gunpoint.

Of course, speed isn't the only tactic; a canny getaway driver might also plan to have an 18-wheeler truck lower a ramp and then the car is hidden in the cargo area.

In Real Life, criminals go to the extra expense of hiring a getaway driver because having one of the heist gunmen double as a driver would mean that the car would be unattended during the robbery; a truck might double park beside it, blocking it. Second, the gunman would be multitasking—splitting their attention between the robbery phase and the escape phase. With a dedicated driver, they only have a single task, so they can focus on it. Third, the getaway driver gives the heist gang "eyes" outside the bank.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sentou Yousei Yukikaze: In the manga, Rei Fukai's backstory had him as a getaway driver for a gang of jewel thieves. This was the crime that got him arrested and sent to Faery.

    Comic Books 
  • In Supergirl story The Death of Luthor, Lex tasks one of his minions with being the getaway driver as he and his remainder goons loot a bank.
  • In the Dortmunder novels by Donald Westlake Stan Murch frequently served as the getaway driver for the string put together by Dortmunder in each novel.

    Fan Works 
  • Family Guy Fanon: Season 16's "Student Driver" has Chris go to get a driving license, but be manipulated by a criminal pretending to be a driver instructor to become a dangerous getaway driver.

    Film - Animated 
  • Sing: Johnny's dad wants him to be the getaway driver for a heist. The trouble is that it conflicts with the singing auditions.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Army of Thieves: Rolph's job for Gwendoline Starr's team, at least for the first two heists.
  • The Art of the Steal: Prior to spending seven years in a Polish prison, Crunch Calhoun was regarded as the best getaway driver in the biz.
  • The titular character in Baby Driver drives bank robbers away from the scene.
  • In The Criminal, Quantock is recruited as wheelman for the racetrack robbery. He is a cocky young bastard, but Bannion has to admit he does know how to handle a car.
  • In Drive (2011), the main character is this.
  • In Drive a Crooked Road, Steve and Harold have a plan to rob the Palm Springs bank, but to pull it off they need a driver who can drive at high speeds on bad roads. To this end, the send Femme Fatale Barbara to seduce Eddie Shannon into becoming their wheelman.
  • Faster: This was Driver's role in the original robbery, and during the getaway he displays the Badass Driver skills that will come into play during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • George is recruited to fill this role in the Caper Crew in The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. Just before the robbery, Egan feels betrayed by George and orders him to participate directly in the robbery while Willy drives the car. This ends badly when Willy panics when the police arrive and bugs out, leaving his partners inside the bank.
  • In Hangmen Also Die!, the plan for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich includes one of these, but he is arrested for wasting gasoline by idling mere minutes before he's needed, so the assassin is forced to improvise.
  • In Snatch., Tyrone is this despite his size causing his exits from the car to take long. But Sol said he's really fast when the situation calls for it.
  • In Son of a Gun, Chris is recruited by Lynch as the getaway driver for the gold refinery job. When he isn't acting as a getaway driver, he is a speedway racer.
  • Jason Statham's character in the first The Transporter movie was this in the opening scene.

    Video Games 
  • In the video game Dino Attack, there's Montoya behind the wheel when he took on the job of being the getaway driver during the Dacta Corp.
  • In Gangsters in Love, the main character drives a getaway car in Ash's route.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series feature the player or NPCs involved in being this in various forms.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tommy Vercetti needs a getaway driver for his Bank Robbery project. That guy is set up to be Hilary King, who Vercetti has to best in a pretty hard street race (among the hardest in the game) to recruit. Unfortunately, Hilary gets killed by SWAT teams outside the bank during the robbery, so of course it's up to Tommy to drive the team away eventually. The aforementioned hard street race was thus All for Nothing.
    • Grand Theft Auto V features single and multiplayer heists were drivers are needed to escape enemies.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 has a getaway driver at the end of a heist, though sometimes the sequel mixes it up with a getaway boat and helicopter.
  • A string of side missions in Sleeping Dogs has Wei being a getaway driver for Calvin whenever he does something outrageous, like detonating a bomb at the police station while standing in front of it. The second time Wei does it, he tells Calvin that if he's going to keep pulling shit like that, he needs to learn to drive.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Replace robbing a bank with the seemingly empty old building you are looting turning out to be filled with deadly monsters, and you can easily have your Designated Driver turn into this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra has one of Toph's daughters being this for two criminals. (It sealed the rift between Lin and Suyin.)
  • A Robot Chicken sketch has a group of robbers hiring Toad to be their getaway driver.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: "The Getaway" has a criminal using SpongeBob as a getaway driver by pretending to be his new driving instructor. In this case, the criminal is the one in real danger.
  • 'Teen Titans Go!: In "Driver's Ed", Robin takes up driver's ed after his license is suspended, but fails to realize that his instructor Ed is a bank robber using him as a getaway driver.


Video Example(s):


Alexey at your service

Alexey Pajitnov uses his sedan to help Henk, Minoru and Howard escape from KGB agents trying to chase them down.

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